Men of Harlech stop your dreaming, Can’t you see their spearpoints gleaming?
I remember this day.
It started like any other day, as I got in early to work at NASA. Part of my morning duties included checking various newsfeeds and related things, and when the first report of a plane hitting the World Trade Center, I remember wondering if it was a small plane and how such could have happened. Then came other reports, including an early one of an explosion at the Pentagon, and it was then I knew nothing was an accident, and I made the calls duty required.
I remember the shock that went through our office, and the building, and my efforts to get any information possible. I remember the much needed laugh when I confirmed that the President was airborne, and Air Force One was in National Emergency Airborne Command Post mode (that’s not just limited to the E-4s). My public shorthand called out to my manager that the President was KNEECAPed caused someone who shall remain nameless to think that an attacker had hit the President in the kneecap with a baseball bat…
I remember watching the news on televisions in various conference rooms, and the horror that ran through all when it was realized that it was not debris falling and jumping from the upper floors. Of learning more about the Pentagon, of tales of planes down elsewhere, and the command to land all planes now. Of wondering and worrying about people I knew at both locations.
I remember being ordered to evacuate, and driving home still in shock, angry, sad, and more. We knew we had been hurt, and that far too many were dead; but, we still didn’t know the true toll. Our thoughts had turned towards survivors, and I knew that around the country Nightingales were prepping to fly to New York to take survivors to selected burn and trauma centers around the country. Would to God they had been needed.
I remember the dust still caking the streets and buildings of lower Manhattan, and the smell of baked lime (chemical, not the fruit) and burnt sweet pork. Of being embarrassed by having an NYPD lieutenant drive me around to a day full of meetings. Of learning how he had barely survived both collapses, as he ran towards the trouble to help. Of being taken to Ground Zero, and watching the boots slowly melt off the workers as they searched their search. Of a young NYPD officer who made sure I saw the Statue of Liberty “while it’s still here” even as we checked out a report of a possible body in the river.
Today, I remember all that and more. Today, I remember Rick Rescorla, who’s preparations, quick thinking, and defiance of official orders allowed him to save 2,700 lives. I remember that he, along with members of the NYFD, died going back in and up, to try to save more.
Today, I remember the dead. Please remember and honor the 2,977 killed (no, not including the terrorists in that number, fuck them), and the more than 6,000 injured.
As for me:
I have not forgotten
I will not forget
I do not forgive
The war began before 9-11. It is not over. It has just barely begun.